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Missouri Freedom Caucus members stripped of Senate committee chair positions

The Missouri State Senate Chamber on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.
Tristen Rouse
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri State Senate Chamber on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024, at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, Mo.

The far-right group of lawmakers have repeatedly clashed with Republican leaders. The actions from the Missouri Senate's leader comes days after the Missouri Freedom Caucus successfully held up a set of gubernatorial appointments from being approved.

The leader of the Missouri Senate has stripped several members of the Missouri Freedom Caucus from chairmanships of committees in an ongoing battle for operational control.

“The beginning of the 2024 legislative session in the Senate has been nothing short of an embarrassment,” Senate President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden, R-Coumbia, said Tuesday, flanked by 14 fellow Republican senators. “A chamber designed to be occupied with civil, principled statesmen and women has been overtaken by a small group of swamp creatures, who all too often remind me more of my children than my colleagues.”

Those stripped of their committee chairmanships are:

  • Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, from the Select Committee on the Protection of Missouri Assets from Foreign Adversaries. Brattin was also removed from being the vice-chair of both the Committee of Veterans, Military Affairs and Pensions and the Committee on Education and Workforce Development.
  • Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, from the Committee of Veterans, Military Affairs and Pensions.
  • Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, from the Committee on Tax Policy and Economic Development. Hoskins was also removed from serving on the Appropriations Committee.
  • Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, from the Committee on Education and Workforce Development.

Speaking after the announcement of the changes, Brattin said he was “tired of all the games being played.”

“I think it's a show of inability to lead. A pro-tem that comes to the floor last week and says he's never been punitive, yet on full display before you, shows the ultimate display of being punitive,” Brattin said.

The actions from Senate Republican leadership comes during the fourth week of the 2024 legislative session, which has already seen several clashes between the caucus and leadership.

The Freedom Caucus, which includes four members of the former Senate Conservative Caucus, was established this session. It includes both House and Senate members for a total of roughly a dozen.

At least twice the session, inquiries and actions from the Freedom Caucus have caused the Senate to adjourn abruptly.

Last Thursday, the Freedom Caucus filibustered for over eight hours to hold up the approval of 25 gubernatorial appointments from Gov. Mike Parson.

Those appointments included Robert Knodell and Paula Nickelson as the permanent directors of the departments of Social Services and Health and Senior Services, respectively.

Members of the caucus held up the appointments because they believed the Senate was not moving forward fast enough on asking voters to make it harder to amend Missouri’s constitution.

The caucus threatened to continue to hold up the appointments until such a plan passes the Senate.

This is a developing story that will be updated

Copyright 2024 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Sarah Kellogg is St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse and Politics Reporter, taking on the position in August 2021. Sarah is from the St. Louis area and even served as a newsroom intern for St. Louis Public Radio back in 2015.
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